Dr. James Kelly Hampson
The amazing materials at the Hampson Museum State Park were made possible by the efforts and dedication of Dr. James K. Hampson. Dr. James Kelly Hampson was born in Memphis, Tennessee on July 9, 1877. In 1898 he graduated from the College of Medicine, now the Medical School at the University of Tennessee. He then attended the New York Polyclinic School and went on to practice medicine for over 25 years in Memphis, and at Nodena and Fort Smith, Arkansas. Dr Hampson died on October 8, 1956.
Dr. Hampson coupled his interest in science and background in medicine with an interest in archaeology and this resulted in the excavation of over 1,000 burials at Nodena alone. Dr. Hampson took great care to ensure that the materials he found were not scattered far and wide into various public and private collections as was common with other sites in the region at the time. Additionally he worked with a number of professional archaeologists including Walter B. Jones of the Alabama Museum of Natural History; Samuel C. Dellinger of the University of Arkansas, who Hampson generously permitted to excavate Nodena; and Stephen Williams of Harvard, who Hampson permitted to extensively study his collection in 1953.
The First Hampson Museum
Modern Arkansas laws now make the disturbance of human burials without a permit illegal
and permits are issued only when impacts from construction or other damage are unavoidable. But in the first half of the 20th century excavation of human remains was unfortunately all too common. While other excavators in this time were often not much better than looters, Dr. Hampson carried out his work with care and attention, drawing on his medical training and experience, and he collaborated with professional archaeologists. According to Williams, “Dr. Hampson brought an inquiring mind and a sound knowledge of the scientific method to the subject of archaeology… his methods equaled those of his professional colleagues working in the area at the same time.”
For more on Dr Hampson see:
Williams, Stephen 1957 James Kelley Hampson 1877-1956. American Antiquity 22(4):398-400
Mainfort, Robert 2008 James Kelley Hampson (1877-1956). Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture.
Morse, Dan. F. (ed) 1989 Nodena. Arkansas Archaeological Survey Research Series 30. Fayetteville AR